Sierra Leone: we learned about Ebola


Funeral of an Ebola victim

Source: Aid to the Church in Need

Sierra Leone’s low death toll from Covid is a result of lessons the country has learned during the Ebola crisis, revealed a priest who has ministered during outbreaks of the two viruses.

So far, only 121 people have died during the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to 3,590 deaths from Ebola between 2014 and 2016.

Speaking to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Peter Konteh, director of Caritas in the capital Freetown, said a number of restrictions used during the Ebola outbreak in the country have helped prevent a repeat of the previous tragedy.

Father Konteh said: “Among the measures taken quickly were the containment of those infected and the quarantine of those with whom they had been in contact. “

Sierra Leone was also one of the first nations to impose strict controls on air travelers, quarantining new arrivals.

He added: “With Ebola, it was much more difficult to educate the population because many did not believe in the virus and died by not respecting the security measures.

“Things are different now with Covid-19 – if you tell people to wear a mask, they listen because they know the consequences.”

But Father Konteh spoke out against inequalities in the global response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “We need a global solution… vaccines go to the rich countries and the rich, not to everyone.”

Father Konteh added: “The ultimate message is that the poor are going to die.

In Sierra Leone, only 0.5 percent of the population has been fully immunized.

Last month, the country received shipments of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, donated by COVAX, and the Sinopharm vaccine, via a bilateral agreement with the Chinese government.

The priest regretted that “the global scientific research that was done for Covid-19 was not done for Ebola, especially since it was limited to a particular area, our region”.

The priest pointed out that Ebola had been more virulent: “If a family member has coronavirus, he can survive, with Ebola it was much more difficult. We have seen whole families die, including a family of 27 people. . “

Father Konteh said one of the most difficult times in the Ebola outbreak was when one of his parish catechists fell ill.

When a group of them came to the man’s home to see how he was doing, the catechist’s eight-year-old daughter came out to greet him because, she said, her mother and father were “sleeping.” .

“The girl held out her hand, but they couldn’t shake it because they knew it was very contagious.

“I had nightmares then. She couldn’t understand. We helped her as best we could, bringing her water, food … called an ambulance, but they were already dead. “

Father Konteh thanked Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “I cannot end without expressing my sincere thanks to Aid to the Church in Need and its benefactors for their support and solidarity.

“Beyond the financial support, we feel that we are a faith family. People pray for us in different parts of the world … In the midst of hardship, we know that people are praying for us and helping Sierra Leone . “

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Aid to the Church in Need – www.acnuk.org

Key words: Sierra Leone, Ebola, ACN, Aid to the Church in Need, Father Peter Konteh

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